Andy Lang - The Potter of Leith
It all began in 1978.
I was determined (against all advice) to go to art school, following in my cousin Dermot’s footsteps. He was at Duncan of Jordanstone, on the Siversmithing course. That’s what I would do; go to art school and become a silversmith.
Truth was, I didn’t like silversmithing.
It seemed too delicate and fashion focused. A bit too trendy for me.
Luckily, the first year at Scottish art school requires that students do a general course, a taster of each of the disciplines available.
And that’s how I found this wee department in the basement, next to sculpture, with all these people in dungarees and boiler suits, all covered in mud. (To be honest, I still think of ceramics as largely being about making a mess and then cleaning up after yourself.)
They were like the dwarves, underground, working their magic. Their alchemy.
I didn’t even know that art schools taught ceramics, but I loved it!
And there was no way back.
I gained my degree in Ceramics in 1983 (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee) and began teaching pottery in a Community Education setting around 1986.
Between 1984 and 1995 I jointly ran Naughton Ceramics Studio in rural NE Fife, but it didn’t quite work out in the end.
I changed direction and moved into music & songwriting, travelling extensively in Europe, USA and Canada for several years.
Since the mid-eighties, I’ve been living with intermittent episodes of mental ill-health, experienced a massive range of medications and therapies, but eventually found my own strategies. I chose to put that experience to some use and took work in social care around 2004.
I worked with mental health, addictions, multiple complex needs and homelessness, achieving SVQ 3 in Health and Social Care along the way, until I was made redundant in summer 2018.
All this time, I never gave up teaching pottery. I couldn’t bear to give up my last link with clay. It took me a while to realise it, but art school made me a potter, and so I am. In the bones, in the blood.
Clay has always been there, waiting for me.
The most amazing thing about pottery is that it allows you to focus entirely on the task, switching off all your everyday worries, while creating something beautiful out of a lump of “mud”.
And this is what my classes at Leith Community Pottery are all about.
We learn to create and we let the process of creation free us from our problems. At least for those couple of hours.
Besides teaching, I also actively practice the art of pottery.
I take on commissions large and small, offer consultancy and workshop set-up advice and produce a range of high quality stoneware goods, reduction fired in one of only 2 (to my knowledge) working gas kilns in Edinburgh.